PRACTICE REPORT: OC Sanford talks offense

Louisville's offense got the better of Charlie Strong's defense Saturday during the Cardinals first spring scrimmage. Monday, OC Mike Sanford installed more of his spread-option offense. Sanford spoke with about his unit's progress after practice.

Mike Sanford's offense got the better of their defensive counterparts during Saturday's scrimmage and Louisville's offensive coordinator was pleased with how physical the Cardinals offensive line played and how well the running backs ran the football.

"It's hard to talk after today," Sanford said. "There were a lot of good things on Saturday in the scrimmage. I thought we were physical in the offensive line and I thought we ran hard. We threw and caught the ball better Saturday than we had the previous two practices."

Sanford said his offense was pretty vanilla during the scrimmage, running only a few plays from his playbook. Monday, Sanford expanded the offensive playbook and began installing more plays for his spread-option offense. That seemed to cause some confusion on the field for his offense.

Mike Sanford said his offense struggled during Monday's practice while installing more of his spread-option offense.
"We installed more today and I felt like we took a step back," Sanford said. "I was disappointed in how we reacted to more installation. We've got to be able to handle that. We were pretty simple Saturday and we put some new stuff in today and had some learning issues. So we've got to improve in that area."

Stein goes down

Will Stein, one of three quarterbacks rotating reps this spring, went down during Monday afternoon's practice. Stein was in obvious pain after being crunched in a pile and had to be carted off the field with an ankle injury.

"I'm real concerned about [him]," Sanford said. "It's an ankle but I don't know how bad."

Stein started two games last season for the Cards.

Sanford comments on quarterback competition

While Stein has been part of Louisville's quarterback competition this spring, the main dual appears between seniors Adam Froman and Justin Burke. Froman and Burke both made their share of plays during Monday's practice, but Froman probably gets the nod because his passes found the mark more times than Burke's.

"We're going to let that thing play out for a while and that's going to be a decision that Coach Strong will make," Sanford said.

Sanford is looking for a quarterback who will be productive and lead the offense.

"I would say a combination of several things," Sanford said. "The guy that is the most productive and is the best leader. I would say the guy that knows what he's doing and understands it [offense] and that the team has confidence in. All those things come together when you make a decision on a quarterback."

Sanford praises Beaumont, Pascley

Sanford singled out two wide receivers – seniors Troy Pascley and Doug Beaumont – for their play during Saturday's scrimmage. Both players also caught several balls during Monday's practice and appear the Cardinals most productive pass catchers so far this spring.

"I was actually pleased with them on Saturday," Sanford said. "I thought Troy Pascley had a tough day on Wednesday and thought he came back Friday and Saturday and did a lot of good things. I really like Doug Beaumont. He does a lot of things really well. We've just got to keep working with the other guys and they have to keep getting better."

Adam Froman seems to have the edge in the quarterback competition.
Sanford said he's still looking for a big-play threat and hinted that some true freshmen could see action in the fall.

"We're going to keep evaluating the guys the guys that are here and give them the best shot they can," said Sanford. "We've also signed five wide receivers in this recruiting class and those guys are going to come in and compete."

Running game a strength

Louisville ran the ball well Saturday behind a veteran offensive line that returns several starters. Sanford has been pleased with their effort and intensity so far this spring.

"I like their attitude and I like the way they work," Sanford said. "We weren't perfect and we've still got a lot of work to do. I like their intensity and how physical they were in the scrimmage. But we've got some technique things we've got to improve on the offensive line."

While Louisville's star running back, Victor Anderson, isn't allowed contact this spring while recovering from a shoulder surgery, Bilal Powell, Darius Ashley and Jeremy Wright have picked up the slack.

"There were some good things Saturday with Bilal Powell, Darius Ashley and Jeremy Wright," Sanford said. "They did some really good things."

Sanford also has called the number of his tight ends this spring.

"I think we have some athletic ability at the tight end and H-back position with Cameron Graham and Stephon Ball, and then we're working Pete Nochta and Nate Nord in there. We're going to utilize the talent we have. We're going to run a shot-gun spread offense but we're going to have a tight end in the game a lot."

Practice Notebook

Louisville spent the early portion of practice working on special teams, primarily with their punt and field goal units. There also was a lot of attention devoted to tackling drills.

Louisville ran a 5 on 8 skeleton drill. Despite being out-numbered by defenders, Doug Beaumont and Troy Pascley found open space to make several receptions. Damian Copeland made a shifty move to slip defenders and ran for a big gain, while Andrell Smith abused a cornerback at the line to make a long catch and run down the sidelines.

Practice concluded with a mini-scrimmage. The defense came out inspired, stuffing the run on the first play from scrimmage, and getting a sack from Malcolm Tatum on the next play. Then Adam Froman stuck deep to Andrell Smith down the sideline and Darius Ashley made a tough run through the middle of the defense.

After a few plays, Strong saw something he didn't like and ordered the entire team to the goal line to run four length of the field sprints. There was some huffing during the last run and then the team immediately returned to practice where they left off.

Following their run, Eugene Sowell fumbled an option toss from Will Stein that was recovered by Isaac Geffrad. Froman and Burke both made impressive plays with their legs. Froman gained big yardage around right end on an option and Burke scored on a long run around the left end. Froman appeared to have the advantage through the air and made a nice completion near the end of the scrimmage to Pete Nochta up the seam.

Conrad Thomas is working with the first team at right guard.

Malcolm Mitchell, a redshirt defensive end, made a simulated sack against Adam Froman.

Senior defensive tackle Tim High limped off the field but should return for Wednesday's practice.

Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich made a brief appearance during Monday's practice session.

VIDEO: Monday's Practice

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